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  Player Power Tip #2:
Customizing Your Controls

Customizing Your Controls

One of the most important things a serious player can do to increase their success is to remap the keyboard to suit their preferences, play style and character features. The default controls are a good compromise... but you can make them better.

Keyboard and mouse control arrangements are necessarily personal and individual. For the most part, I will be describing changes and control options that suit me; you can try these out, or use them as starting points for your own control configuration.

An important reminder - Don't forget you made these changes, especially with respect to default keys you disable. There's nothing more frustrating than arguing with someone because a suggested key use doesn't work... because you nuked it.

Getting Started

The Options menu lets you specify new keys for most of the important game functions, and many users will be able to change their mapping around using just this menu. However, working directly with the keybind file and entering keybinds using slash commands gives you more power and options.

To get started on a serious reworking of your keyboard and mouse, you should perform the following steps:

  1. Reset your keybinds to the defaults, if you haven't done any significant changes or binds (such as those in Power Tip #1). This will make it easier to make consistent changes for the new setup.
  2. If you have made a lot of changes you'd like to keep, skip this step.

  3. Save your current keybinds to a file using the following command: /bind_save_file c:\mybindlist.txt. You can specify any local path and filename that suits you.
  4. Open this keybind file in your favorite text editor - Notepad is fine if you don't have anything else. Now you're ready for the rest of the procedures.

Eliminating Unwanted Keys

One of the first things you should do to the control layout is disable all the keys you do not use and probably do not want to use. There may be a gray area of key bindings that you aren't sure about; feel free to leave these in place. But the general idea here is that it's better to have a key that doesn't do anything than one that might do something unexpected or unwanted.

The default layout has many, many keys that are either of questionable value, or are downright dangerous and annoying. For instance, I've never had much use for the "select team member" bindings of SHIFT+1 through SHIFT+8. I'd suggest eliminating them to prevent inadvertent selection and problems.

When you eliminate a default key binding, don't delete the whole line in the keybind file. If the line is omitted, a restore to defaults followed by a load of your custom file will leave any defaults not named in the new file alone. You have to put in a specific "die, sucker, die!" line to eliminate a default keybind.

So: With the keybind file open in an editor, find every single line that represents a key binding you don't want, and delete everything between the quote marks, for example:

SHIFT+1 "team_select 1" to
SHIFT+1 ""

Repeat this for the other seven "team select" bindings.

Another class of keybinds I have found extremely annoying and of no use whatsover are those to select specific power trays. All of these can screw you up in battle, when your power commands suddenly stop working and you may be nearly dead before you realize the tray has been switched.

I would strongly recommend disabling all tray-select commands to prevent this kind of mistake. If you have a real need to change trays quickly, write some specific and meaningful binds to make the exact switches you need, instead.

So: With the keybind file open in an editor, find every single line that represents a tray-change key binding, and delete everything between the quote marks:

CTRL+1 "goto_tray 1" to
CTRL+1 ""

There are nine of those.

Then eliminate the nasty, dastardly, hero-killing tray-switch commands. Blank out all of these:

- "prev_tray"
ALT+- "prev_tray_alt"
EQUALS "next_tray"
ALT+EQUALS "next_tray_alt"

Continue by examining every line of the keybind file. If it's not a command you want, want bound to that key, or will use, then blank its definition. I put most of the default binds for chat messages and emotes in this category. I also prefer to disable all the key commands for windows (T for target, C for chat) etc. and use only the mouse and main menu to change window display. That way, they don't accidentally disappear in the heat of battle.

Save the keybinds file when you're done.

Cool Mouse Binds

By default, only the three main buttons of the mouse are bound to commands. You can add several very useful binds to ALT+ and CTRL+ combinations with the mouse buttons.

Note that the middle mouse button (if you have one) is bound to camera rotate by default, with the mouse wheel bound to camera distance. If you can reliably rebind these functions, I haven't found out how - the bind for the wheel is persistent, and the button bind is difficult to use if the wheel is clicked even once. So in general, I'd recommend that you leave the MOUSEWHEEL bind alone, and blank out the bind for MBUTTON, just for safety.

Don't change the default LBUTTON bind - leave it on "select" (which may be another persistent bind, anyway). Then set the following keybinds, of which only RBUTTON and MBUTTON should have default lines:

RBUTTON "+mouse_look"
ALT+RBUTTON "+camrotate"
CTRL+RBUTTON "+camreset"
SHIFT+RBUTTON "+camreset"
ALT+LBUTTON ""
CTRL+LBUTTON "target_friend_next"
SHIFT+LBUTTON "target_enemy_next"
MBUTTON ""

See? Now the middle button is disabled, the mouse wheel will control camera distance (as before) and the left button will select (as before). The Ctrl-Left Button will cycle through visible friends, the Shift-Left Button will cycle through visible foes, and the Alt-Left Button is disabled. The right button will enable mouselook (freelook), while Alt-Right Button will unlock the camera and permit it to be repositioned. Both the Ctrl-Right Button and Shift-Right Buttons will reset the camera to the default.

This is a modification from the first version posted - I found that this combination works better and the buttons don't get in each others' way. That's why two Right buttons are bound to the same command - so that the Left button commands won't mess up the camera - and the Alt-Left button is disabled.

Try it, you'll like it. Some people don't like control-key/mouse control combinations, but if you're not one of those, you'll be amazed at how much power you just put under your mousing hand.

Save the keybind file when you're done.

Other Changes

This would be a good place to put in any of the window control binds described in Power Tip #1, any of the binds from the Way Cool Bind LIst, or any special chat or emote strings you want. It's particularly easy to enter the long window-scaling bind and complicated emote/chat strings in this manner, rather than in the chat entry window.

Save the keybind file when you're done.

Loading Your Changes

To load your keybind changes, go into the game, into the Option menu, and into the Controls pane. Click the "reset to defaults" button.

Now, back at the main User Interface, type the following:

/bind_load_file c:\mynewbinds.txt

Substitute the actual local path and filename. A tip: put it somewhere very easy to specify, like your C:\ directory.

Test, fine-tune via /bind commands, resave any changes as at the beginning of this Tip... and wham!